- Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt’s arrangement to rent a room in a Capitol Hill-adjacent condo for $US50-a-night is under brand-new scrutiny.
- An energy company with ties to the condo’s owner had its expansion plan approved by Pruitt’s agency during his stay.
- The energy company is a client of a lobbying firm whose chairman is married to an owner of the condo.
- The lobbying firm and Pruitt’s representatives denied there was a connection.
A condominium owned by the wife of an energy industry lobbying executive, and rented by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt for $US50-a-night, is under renewed scrutiny, because a project linked to that lobbying firm got approved during Pruitt’s stay.
According to a New York Times report published on Monday, the Canadian energy company Enbridge, Inc., employed lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, whose chairman, Steven Hart, is married to the condo’s co-owner, Vicki Hart.
Enbridge’s pipeline project, which aimed to get more oil flowing from Canada to the US, was approved last March, around the same time that Pruitt was renting the condo in question, The Times reported.
The confluence of events has raised new questions about whether Pruitt’s lease arrangement with the lobbyist’s wife was connected to the EPA’s actions that led to Enbridge’s project being green-lighted.
In a statement to the Times, Pruitt spokeswoman, Liz Bowman, denied there was any connection and said “any attempt to draw that link is patently false.”
Pruitt’s living arrangement initially prompted questions after a Bloomberg report found that his single bedroom in a prime location near Capitol Hill was rented out to him for $US50 a night. Pruitt paid only for the nights he slept at the unit, for a total of $US6,100 over a six-month period.
Similar apartments in the area are currently advertised for between $US3,750 and $US4,740 a month – roughly $US125 to about $US160 per day – according to the Associated Press.
The critical news coverage surrounding Pruitt, who is also under the spotlight for his travel habits, did not go unnoticed by the White House, which has bristled recently over the mounting scandals embroiling several of President Donald Trump’s cabinet secretaries.
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